Police encourage cautious driving as students return to school

SCHOOL BUS: Many students rely on a bus driver to get them to and from school each day. (Pioneer file photo)

SCHOOL BUS: Many students rely on a bus driver to get them to and from school each day. (Pioneer file photo)

MECOSTA COUNTY — Yellow school buses and kids in crosswalks will become a common sight once again beginning next week as many area schools start a new year.

But before the first bell chimes for school districts throughout Mecosta County, law enforcement officials are reminding residents of ways to help keep students safe while traveling to and from school.

“With school starting, there will be more pedestrian traffic and school bus stops,” said Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell. “Drivers need to be more aware in the early morning and afternoon because of buses making frequent stops.”

When the lights of a bus begin to flash, drivers must slow down and start to stop, Purcell said.

“You cannot pass a bus when the stop sign is up and the red lights are on,” he said.

Paying attention to busses and their signals is vital to keep kids safe, said Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Director Andrea Nerbonne.

“When a bus starts to slow down, you should always be conscious they are stopping for students who could be crossing the road,” Nerbonne said. “Just be cautious and considerate of them.”

Drivers in Big Rapids also should be ready for traffic backups and congestion due to the closure of the Baldwin Street Bridge.

“We all have to be very vigilant on allowing enough time for travel because of the construction’s impact on traffic flow,” Nerbonne said. “It’s important to be patient and understand it takes time to build a nice, safe bridge. Drivers should allow extra time for pick up and drop off of students.”

The construction also could alter pick up and drop off times, Purcell said.

“With the Big Rapids bus garage on the east side of the Muskegon River and schools on the west side, it could delay buses arriving at the schools and the timeliness of children getting home,” he said.

Like last year, firefighters will assist at the crosswalks in front of the Big Rapids Middle School, Nerbonne said. Police officers also are assigned to all the elementary schools in the mornings and afternoons.

“They will be there whenever they can, unless they are called out,” Nerbonne said. “We do the best we can with the resources we have. We hope parents will be mindful of kids possibly darting into traffic and also remind their children to look both ways before crossing the street and stay within the crosswalk.”

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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